Africa

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state-owned South African power utility with about $30 billion of debt, sought advisers on how to implement a government bailout seven months after President Cyril Ramaphosa said the company would be reorganized, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom issued an invitation to tender for “financial services for implementation for government support package” on Aug. 23, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. The tender, which closed on Sept.

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Investors may be forgiven for wondering what’s taking Moody’s Investors Service so long to downgrade South Africa to junk, Bloomberg News reported. Financial markets have been pricing in a downgrade for months, and the two other major rating companies have had South Africa on junk for two years. Yet Moody’s said this week South Africa’s investment rating is probably safe for another 12 to 18 months and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government needs time to implement economic reforms, including fixing the loss-making power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

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South Africa’s unsecured lending boom has left 40% of borrowers in default and millions of people in a debt trap, according to fund manager Differential Capital, Bloomberg News reported. About 7.8 million of the country’s 60 million residents have taken out a combined 225 billion rand ($15 billion) of loans without collateral, mostly for short-term needs such as furniture and urgent family care, the Johannesburg-based firm said in a report. South Africa eased controls on unsecured lending in 2007 to boost financial inclusion in one of the world’s most unequal nations.

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Creditors holding 99.5% of Mozambique’s Eurobond support its debt restructuring proposal, the country’s government said in a statement on Monday, paving the way for an overhaul of part of its heavy debt burden, Reuters reported. Mozambique said in May it had agreed a restructuring deal “in principle” with the majority of holders of the $727 million notes maturing in 2023 MZ139100352= after a hidden debt scandal in 2016 prompted the International Monetary Fund and foreign donors to cut off support, triggering a currency collapse and a default on the country’s sovereign debt.

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South Africa’s struggling state-owned defense company Denelaims to begin disposing of equity stakes and exiting loss-making businesses within months as part of its turnaround strategy, it told a parliamentary committee, Reuters reported. Denel, which makes ammunition, missiles and armored vehicles for South Africa and customers elsewhere in Africa, the Gulf and Europe, received a 1.8 billion rand ($122 million) cash injection from the government at the end of last month after struggling to pay salaries and suppliers.

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Talks around restructuring Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s bonds must be approached carefully to avoid spooking the market, according to S&P Global Ratings, Bloomberg News reported. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday the government will consult with the power utility’s debt holders on any reorganization and that there isn’t any real concern about haircuts.

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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s power system “remains tight and vulnerable” going into South Africa’s summer because of increased maintenance, Bloomberg News reported. As the state-owned utility schedules more work to improve its aging fleet, it’s also experiencing more vandalism of its equipment and illegal connections, Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer told journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Eskom has managed to run for 164 straight days without implementing rotational power cuts, Oberholzer said.

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The South African government may be forced to inject more money into state power firm Eskom by the end of March if the struggling utility fails to meet its borrowing plan, a Treasury official told parliament on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Eskom supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity but does not generate sufficient cash to meet its debt-service costs and relies on state bailouts to stay afloat.

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Zambia should show that it is taking measures to fight corruption to unlock donor aid and investments that have been withheld due to graft concerns, the British High Commissioner to the country said on Tuesday, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Britain, Finland, Ireland and Sweden withheld nearly $34 million in aid to Zambia's social welfare and education sectors in September last year because of concern over financial mismanagement.

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Mozambique plans to conclude restructuring its dollar bonds by the end of September, almost three years after first announcing the proposal, Bloomberg News reported. The southeast African nation asked holders of $727 million of debt due 2023 to exchange it for $900 million of notes maturing five years later. That’s mainly because the government expects it will have started earning revenue from Africa’s largest liquefied-natural-gas project, and won’t have difficulty in repaying debts.

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